Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lesson from Mumbai

1. I think that the attacks in Mumbai were a response to the ratherinept and amateurish bombings that took place earlier this year inmultiple sites in India: Bangalore, Delhi, Surat, Jaipur and Hyderabad. Mumbai is a demonstration lesson for the would-be terrorists in India and abroad: how to make use of the local resources, exploit the local conditions and work with local elements in order to achieve the maximum result. This lesson is being taught to the potential recruits in India and abroad by an influential section of the international terrorists.

2. Why the need for a lesson, and who is doing the teaching? To answer this question, we need to understand how the face of terrorism has changed in the course of the last decades. In the latter part of the twentieth century, terrorism remained both local and provincial.It was local in the sense that some or another cell (or an organization with a pseudo-military structure) undertook (mostly)small scale attacks against locally known figures. It was provincial in the sense that the attacks had very little ripple effects outside the locality (or the nation) where such events took place.

TheHeathenInHisBlindness : Message: Lesson from Mumbai: A Cross-Posting

Monday, November 24, 2008

Linux Accounting

Accounting is one place where Linux has a pretty wide selection of software for businesses sized from kitchen table to multinational enterprise. Porting from Unix to Linux is very easy, so many substantial and well tested packages have made that migration. Unix still dominates accounting in midsize companies and many firms seek to modernize those systems by moving to Linux with its optional GUI interface and wide support.

Linux Accounting

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Flood of Liquidity & the Surge in Inflation

The broad M3 money supply – "which the ECB uses as a gauge of future inflation," as Bloomberg notes – rose 12.3% from Oct. last year, the fastest rate of growth since July 1979. And this monetary inflation will only rise faster when November's numbers come out late in Dec.

The Fed offers money to the big New York banks in exchange for good-quality securities – securities such as, say, US Treasury bonds or government agency debt. And it will lend money for anything between 24 hours and two weeks or more.

The Fed has always been happy to accept mortgage-backed bonds as security for the short-term cash injections it makes. If the New York interbank lending rate needs a little shot in the arm to cool it down, AAA-rated mortgage-backed securities are just fine.

   But as you can see, the big banks stepping up to the Fed's auctions have always been keen to use more mortgage-backed securities (MBS) as collateral than the Fed would accept.

   Indeed, the ratio of MBS submitted to MBS accepted averaged only 0.55 between Nov. 2000 and the end of July '07. More times than not, the Fed said "no" to home-loan backed bonds. It demanded US Treasury notes or agency debt as security for lending hard cash instead.

   But since the credit crunch first bit at the start of August, the New York Fed has relented somewhat. The ratio of MBS submitted to MBS accepted when bidding for the Fed's cash has risen to 0.85.

A Flood of Liquidity & the Surge in Inflation | Gold News

Cloud Computing's Top Three?

We believe cloud computing will massively disrupt the desktop computing industry that came before it -- and we think three stocks, in particular, will profit handsomely from the shift.

Google, Akamai, and VMware: Cloud Computing's Top Three?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Can't you just love me for who I am

One evening last week, my girlfriend and I were getting into bed. Well, the passion starts to heat up, and she eventually says, 'I don't feel like it, I just want you to hold me.'

I said, 'WHAT??!! What was that?!'

So she says the words that every boyfriend on the planet dreads to hear...

'You're just not in touch with my emotional needs as a woman enough for me to satisfy your physical needs as a man.'

She responded to my puzzled look by saying, 'Can't you just love me for who I am and not what I do for you in the bedroom?'

Realizing that nothing was going to happen that night, I went to sleep.

The very next day I opted to take the day off of work to spend time with her. We went out to a nice lunch and then went shopping at a big, big unnamed department store. I walked around with her while she tried on several different very expensive outfits. She couldn't decide which one to take, so I told her we'd just buy them all. She wanted new shoes to compliment her new clothes, so I said, 'Let's get a pair for each outfit.'

We went on to the jewelry department where she picked out a pair of diamond earrings. Let me tell you... she was so excited. She must have thought I was one wave short of a shipwreck. I started to think she was testing me because she asked for a tennis bracelet when she doesn't even know how to play tennis.

I think I threw her for a loop when I said, 'That's fine, honey.' She was almost nearing sexual satisfaction from all of the excitement. Smiling with excited anticipation, she finally said, 'I think this is all dear, let's go to the cashier.'

I could hardly contain myself when I blurted out, 'No honey, I don't feel like it.'

Her face just went completely blank as her jaw dropped with a baffled, 'WHAT?'

I then said, 'Honey! I just want you to HOLD this stuff for a while. You're just not in touch with my financial needs as a man enough for me to satisfy your shopping needs as a woman.'

And just when she had this look like she was going to kill me, I added, 'Why can't you just love me for who I am and not for the things I buy you?'

Apparently I'm not having sex tonight either....but at least that bitch knows I'm smarter than her.

you're equipped to be a

It is a portion of National Public Radio (NPR) interview between a female broadcaster and US Marine Corps General Reinwald who was about to sponsor a Boy Scout Troop visiting his military installation

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: So, General Reinwald, what things are you going to teach these young boys when they visit your base?
GENERAL REINWALD: We're going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery, and shooting.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: Shooting! That's a bit irresponsible, isn't it?
GENERAL REINWALD: I don't see why, they'll be properly supervised on the rifle range.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: Don't you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?
GENERAL REINWALD: I don't see how. We will be teaching them proper rifle discipline before they even touch a firearm.

FEMALE INTERVIEWER: But you're equipping them to become violent killers.
GENERAL REINWALD: Well, Ma'am, you're equipped to be a prostitute, but you're not one, are you?

The radio went silent and the interview ended.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

George Soros

On Black Wednesday (September 16, 1992), Soros became immediately famous when he sold short more than $10 billion worth of pounds, profiting from the Bank of England's reluctance to either raise its interest rates to levels comparable to those of other European Exchange Rate Mechanism countries or to float its currency.

Finally, the Bank of England was forced to withdraw the currency out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and to devalue the pound sterling, and Soros earned an estimated US$ 1.1 billion in the process. He was dubbed "the man who broke the Bank of England."

Soros' philanthropic funding includes efforts to promote non-violent democratization in the post-Soviet states. These efforts, mostly in Central and Eastern Europe, occur primarily through the Open Society Institute (OSI) and national Soros Foundations, which sometimes go under other names (such as the Stefan Batory Foundation in Poland). As of 2003, PBS estimated that he had given away a total of $4 billion. The OSI says it has spent about $400 million annually in recent years.

Drug liberalization

Soros has funded worldwide efforts to promote Drug liberalization. In 2008, Soros donated $400,000 to help fund a successful ballot measure in the state of Massachusetts known as the Massachusetts Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative which decriminalized possession of less then 1 oz of marijuana in the state.

George Soros - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hedge Fund Manager: Goodbye ... And Think Pot

The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.

Ah, the female. The evil female plant -- marijuana. It gets you high, it makes you laugh, it does not produce a hangover. Unlike alcohol, it does not result in bar fights or wife beating. So, why is this innocuous plant illegal? Is it a gateway drug? No, that would be alcohol, which is so heavily advertised in this country. My only conclusion as to why it is illegal, is that Corporate America, which owns Congress, would rather sell you Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax and other additive drugs, than allow you to grow a plant in your home without some of the profits going into their coffers.

Hedge Fund Manager: Goodbye ... And Think Pot

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov

Population doubles every ten years. Once this Galaxy is filled, we'll have another filled in ten years. Another ten years and we'll have filled two more. Another decade, four more. In a hundred years, we'll have filled a thousand Galaxies. In a thousand years, a million Galaxies. In ten thousand years, the entire known Universe. Then what?"

VJ-23X said, "As a side issue, there's a problem of transportation. I wonder how many sunpower units it will take to move Galaxies of individuals from one Galaxy to the next."

"A very good point. Already, mankind consumes two sunpower units per year."

"Most of it's wasted. After all, our own Galaxy alone pours out a thousand sunpower units a year and we only use two of those."

"Granted, but even with a hundred per cent efficiency, we can only stave off the end. Our energy requirements are going up in geometric progression even faster than our population. We'll run out of energy even sooner than we run out of Galaxies. A good point. A very good point."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

People are grieving

“People are grieving,” said Ms. Goldsmith, a semiretired psychotherapist who counsels fellow residents of the Gleneagles Country Club, a gated community here. “There was a death. Their money died.

Retirees Cope With Dwindling Portfolios -

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beating the College Bubble

Far from being the solution, the government is the problem, yet again. While government-guaranteed student loans have expanded college access, any economist worth his salt will tell you that by flooding the college market with loans that anyone can get and that are guaranteed by the government has led to tuition well outpacing inflation. What else could have caused this?

If this sounds really familiar, it should. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had a similar effect on the housing bubble. So you'll have to excuse me if I get frightened when I hear "government to the rescue" for a problem it helped create.

Beating the College Bubble

Patents are genocidal

I think its important to understand that as society enters into the coming replication age, that the phony property right they call "patent" will become genocidal.

As things like nanotech and 3d printing take off, production will shift away from the factory and back into the home. The market will start to center around production and creation services instead of production goods.

The people and industries on the losing side of this model will almost certainly try to turn to a patent royalty model, and will almost certainly use extremely coercive measures to impose their control. Just look at Monsanto and ADM and their heavy handed patent strategies used against farmers. Just look at the RIAA and how they cling to their royalty control model under the guise of "intellectual" property and attacked everyone. Just look at the slave plantations, how the plantation masters envisioned that the future of the industrial revolution was to leverage inventions like the cotton-gin and their "ownership" of slaves to vastly expand the size and production capabilities of their plantations. Just look at how pharmaceutical companies sued African nations in the world court to ban them from buying generic AIDS drugs from India. Just look at how patents in the USA slowed anti-lock brakes and air-bags development by decades as millions died.

Mark my words, if we let them push the lie that patent is a "property" or an "incentive" or "protection", genocidal consequences will not be far away.

Top Microsoft Execs Moonlighting For a Patent Bully

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Stretching Before Exercising Weakens Muscles

That may be adequate for running, but it won't do for regimens with extreme range of motion, such as martial arts. We stretch for half an hour prior to a workout punctuated with short one-minute warm-ups every five minutes or so, and it definitely reduces injuries (which, as the GP has it, is the intent... not for "strength"... in fact, I've never heard — anywhere — that the act of stretching increases strength for the immediately succeeding session of exercise. I've been teaching martial arts for over twenty years.)

I can also tell you that if your body isn't prepared to reach an extended position, and it has to go there, either because you forced it to or someone else did, you had better have stretched first and be warmed up.

As for this line in TFS: "The old presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds -- known as static stretching -- primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It actually weakens them", the science of this has been known for many years. What happens is that the working elements of the muscle fibers are laid against each other in pairs with an intervening layer between; the more overlap, the more power can be generated because the overlapping surface area of the layer between is where the work gets done. When fibers are stretched, there is less overlap, hence the muscle can generate less power, but the muscle is longer.

Think of your forearm extended, and look at your bicep... see how it is long? Lots of fiber layers have slid against each other and now have considerably less overlap. Now move your arm to the 90 degree position at the elbow, and look at your bicep; it's bunched up, even if it isn't tense: many fiber layers are now slid to an overlapping position.

The number of fibers involved is the factor that determines the total amount of strength in your motion; high recruitment of fibers results in a strong motion, low recruitment results in a weak motion. We train to develop the ability to generate high recruitment on demand. But no matter the recruitment, if you start from a highly non-overlapped position, eg a stretched one, you'll generate less power with the stretched muscle.

This is the basis for moves like arm locks; if the arm is extended, not only is the leverage at the joint reduced, making it more difficult to close the arm against the lock, but the muscle is extended by the lock so that fiber overlap is minimal, which reduces the amount of force that can be generated by the muscle — it is literally a "double-whammy", and accounts for why a fully executed lock is so hard to exit using direct force (correct exits involve rotation of the arm or the lock itself in order to effect closure of the joint, and a good lock prevents such rotation.)

For any motion, you typically will have two muscle groups involved; the agonist, which is the muscle doing the work, and an antagonist, which is the muscle that would be responsible to reverse the motion. In the case of bending at the elbow, to close the arm, the bicep is the agonist and the triceps is the antagonist. If you are trying to open your arm, that is, extend your forearm, then the roles are reversed: The triceps is the agonist and the bicep is the antagonist. One of the key elements of controlling the force your body can generate is learning to really relax the antagonist, and again, stretching helps by teaching you what a really relaxed and extended muscle feels like; it is difficult to minimize fiber recruitment if you don't know what it feels like and the muscle isn't accustomed to that condition.

Anyway, my recommendation is that athletes ignore this report entirely; stretching significantly increases your range of motion, particularly in your ankles, legs, groin, waist, wrists, fingers, back, neck and shoulders, and to the degree that your sport requires (or risks) large range of motion and easy movement, you should include gentle and comprehensive stretching regularly interspersed by minor warming of the muscles as part of your regimen any time you start cold, or become cold (where "cold" means not warmed up in the muscular sense.) This will help reduce injuries, increase general flexibility, and it helps relax the antagonist muscles to reduce wasted energy. To the extent that it reduces power, the trade off is well worth it, in my estimation. Injuries, in a word, suck.

Stretching Before Exercising Weakens Muscles

BitTorrent - Digital Freedom

What attracted me to BitTorrent in the first place (and what is still inspiring to this day) is its ability to provide people true digital freedom. BitTorrent exemplifies market principles, tends toward decentralization, and operates on principles of meritocracy — all great virtues in my book! There have been few technologies in the history of mankind which have had such a massive impact on so many people, giving them the ability to communicate and benefit from each other. For its direct and indirect benefits, I believe BitTorrent sits among the handful of important technology breakthroughs such as the printing press, broadcasting, and the Internet itself. Why? Today's publishing technology (like blogs, bittorrent, and video sharing sites for example) quite directly forge a level playing field for creativity. And indirectly, these tools force large media companies to realize that there is no longer scarcity or a stranglehold on distribution that locks people out of self-expression. Anyone can speak to the world in any format, without filters. Freedom of Speech has never been so available to the masses.

As an open-source technology protocol, BitTorrent represents about half the world’s Internet traffic.

Hulu - Quills

QUILLS imagines the final days of the Marquis de Sade as a blistering black comedy thriller, a battle between lust and love - and between the brutality of censorship and the consequences of free expression.

Hulu - Quills

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Origins of Voter Fraud

"If the ballots are completely anonymous, and there's no way to tell who actually voted, how will we know if the person elected king really won?"

"The kingdom will tell us. They're running the election, after all."

"So there's nothing stopping the kingdom from simply picking a winner and then making it look like the new king actually won this 'election'?"

"I suppose not."

"Well that's pretty much the system we already had, except now we're wasting time and money to make it look like the people in the kingdom actually support what the rulers wanted to do all along."

"Huh. I never considered that."

"I think I'll stay home on this 'election day'."

"Does that mean you don't want to hear about the kingdom's new 'campaign finance' laws?"

The Origins of Voter Fraud - Mises Economics Blog

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Calcutta Quran Petition

Chandmal Chopra tried to ban the Koran at the Calcutta High Court in a Writ Petition on 29 March 1985. The book claims that Sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 95 of the Criminal Procedure Code were often used by Muslims to ban or proscribe publications critical of Islam, and states that "so far it had been the privilege of the Peoples of the Book to ban and burn the sacred literature of the Pagans." It was under the same sections that Chopra tried to ban the Quran. Chandmal Chopra thought that the Koran "on grounds of religion promotes disharmony, feeling of enmity, hatred and ill-will between different religious communities and incite people to commit violence and disturb public tranquility..."

Chandmal Chopra also included a list of several dozens of Quran verses that "promote disharmony" in his petition. The book claims that these Quran verses embody one of the main themes of the book: "Nor have these passages been culled at random from different chapters of the Quran with a view to making the book sound sinister. On the contrary, they provide an almost exhaustive list of Allah’s sayings on a subject of great significance, namely, what the believers should believe about and do to the unbelievers..."

The Telegraph of May 9, 1985 reported that the Union Government would make itself a party in the case, and the Union law minister Ashoke Sen and the attorney-general of the Government of India were going to take action against the case. Muslim lawyers after a meeting condemned the case. According to The Telegraph of May 10, the Chief Minister of West Bengal called the petition "a despicable act". Other politicians in the Lok Sabha at New Delhi, and the Minister of State for Law condemned the Petition.

Pakistan’s minister of state for religious and minority affairs claimed that the petition was the ‘worst example of religious intolerance.’, and he urged the Indian government to ‘follow the example of Pakistan’ in ensuring freedom of religion.

The petition was however dismissed in May 1985. The text of the judgment is included in the book. The Attorney-General of the Government of India and the Advocate-General of West Bengal appeared in the case and argued against Chopra's petition.

On August 31, 1987 Chandmal Chopra was arrested by the police and kept in police custody until September 8 for publishing with Goel this book on the petition. Sita Ram Goel had to abscond to avoid getting arrested.

The Times of India published three articles which praised the Quran during the Petition controversy. Goel claims that a rebuttal to these articles could not be published in the Times of India. Goel claims that the chief editor, Girilal Jain, regretted his inability to do so for reasons he could not reveal.

Thanks to Vishal!

Fatwa Online !!

Is it permissible to wear a tie? Is it permissible to tuck one's shirt into one's trousers?

(Fatwa: 1282/1096=L/1429)

(1) It is not allowed.

(2) By tucking shirt into trouser, the parts of the body which should not be displayed are more revealed. Therefore it will be makrooh (undesirable). However, pant and shirt is the clothing of those involved in sin and obscenity; therefore Muslims should avoid wearing pant and shirt.

and Allah (Subhana Wa Ta'ala) Knows Best
If the pant's hems are at ankles(below the ankles) can they be folded before performing Namaz?

(Fatwa: 1565/208=B/1429)

It is unlawful (haram) to wear lungi, pyjama, pant etc out of pride below ankles whether you are in or out of salah. Performing salah in this state is makrooh tahrimi (undesirable to an extent of haram). If one wears pants above his ankles but by chance if it comes down below ankles because of some reasons, then it will not be considered haram. If one folds up his pants before salah above ankles the salah will not be makrooh. In the Hadith, it is prohibited to play with clothes in salah i.e. doing so is against the Sunnah as well as khushu (concentration and absorption in salah). However, the salah will be valid with karahah (undesirability). It is not necessary to repeat the salah. This is the right and correct ruling, one should act upon accordingly.

and Allah (Subhana Wa Ta'ala) Knows Best

Darul Ifta, Darul Uloom Deoband

ASSLAAMALAIKUM, I am studying in eng. college in B.Tech course.I have applied for education loan in minority commision.LOAN IS GRANTED BY THE STATE GOVERNMENT @3% interest. is it halal for me as my parents are unable to pay a huge amount of fees.please clear my confusion.

It is unlawful to give and take interest. If you can continue your education through any lawful income source, then you must adopt it, otherwise in case of dire difficulty and compulsion, it is allowable to take education loan and you must continually do repentance and seek forgiveness while deeming it a sin.

Asalamualaikum, My question is that does Islam allow us to use pirated or cracked software? As original software are expensive & found rarely.

It is not right to use it without the permission of its owner.

and Allah (Subhana Wa Ta'ala) Knows Best

Assalamu-alaikum, While sneezing comes, what should we do? Someone says, we should control it at our best, if not possible, then we can use the front side of left hand to cover-up the mouth. Another alim says, rather reverse side of pump of the left hand should be used to cover-up. Which one is correct? Zazakallahu khairan.

One should not withhold the sneezing. The abovementioned matter is of yawning, one can put inner and outer side of his palms upon his mouth while yawning, and both ways are allowed. It is in Shami that if a person is in standing position in salah, he should use his right hand whether outer or inner side, and if he is in other positions of salah he should use the outer side of his left hand. (Shami, 1:477) But this is the ruling of yawning (no sneezing) which is called tathaub in Arabic. The sneezing which is called utaas in Arabic, there is no ruling to control it. The Hadith says: ان الله يحب العطاس ويكره التثاؤب (Allah like sneezing and dislikes yawning) And it is narrated in Bukhari and Muslim:

Is it permissible to use utensils such as forks, knives, spoons etc. to eat?

One can use the things mentioned in the question when needed. But, it is prohibited to use them as fashion and avoid eating with fingers.

and Allah (Subhana Wa Ta'ala) Knows Best

Assalam mu Alaykum, When is sexual intercourse haraam and when is it makrooh. And what is haraam during sexual intercourse and what is makrooh.

(1) No, she can not. Such a woman has been cursed in Hadith.

(2) She should cut her nails fortnightly, if not weekly. If one did not cut the nails for fourteen days then one will be sinful whether a woman or a man.

(3) Every time she will perform Umrah she will have to cut the hair of her head equal to one third of her finger. If the hair reached up to her shoulder then also she has to cut the same.

What type of eveidence should be required to charge an adultery on woman? like whether four men see that particular female having sexual intercourse. or having relations with other men out of Islamic boundries like in a separate or going out alone with other man. If one wife is found guilty of having lewdness relations with other men then is he liable to give dower (Meher) at the time of divorce.

Four witnesses are requited to establish the offence of adultery. These witnesses will have to bear witness in this way: "I have seen so and so man doing intercourse with so and so woman in a way as pin of kohl is inserted in kohl-jar." One can not blame a woman of adultery just by seeing her going out alone with a man:

ویثبت الزنا بشھادۃ أربعۃ رجال فی مجلس واحد بلفظ 'زنا' لا مجرد لفظ الوطئ و الجماع، فیسألھم الامام عنہ ما ھو؟ کیف ھو؟ و أين هو؟ و متی زنی؟ فان بینوہ و قالوا رأیناہ وطئھا فی فرجھا کالمیل فی المکحلۃ و عدلوا سراً و علانیۃً حکم بہ (الدر المختار مع الشامی: 6/8)

(2) Yes, he has to give her mehr (dower) in case of talaq.

Dear Mufti, Asalamualaikum, I want to ask is network marketing is allowed in islam? Is it permisable to take the commission from the pepoles works whos is working below you?

Network marketing is neither based on partnership nor Muzarba (investment by one partner and work by other), rather it consists of many invalid conditions, and it is similar to lottery and gambling. Also, there is so much deception that in the greed of wealth it can trap the entire population in financial crisis. Therefore, it is Islamically unlawful to become its member or to take commission from the work of the persons below you while you do not have a share in their work.

An Afghan Penalty For Soccer Shorts

The religious police of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement arrested visiting Pakistani soccer players on Saturday and shaved their heads because they were wearing shorts, Afghan and team officials said today.
An Afghan Penalty For Soccer Shorts - New York Times

Religious police also assaulted men for immodest dress, incorrect beard length, and long hair (see Section 2.c.). In one incident in 2000, a visiting Pakistani soccer team playing in Kandahar had their heads forcibly shaved in the middle of a match by Taliban authorities.


The corporate university

Podolny, still only 43 and credited with helping applications to the school rise by 50 percent in his four-year tenure, is leaving to become the first ever dean of the so-called Apple University.

The computer and tech company has yet to say exactly what Apple University is -- an Apple spokesman called it only an "exciting new project" -- but many people assume it is likely to be an in-house executive education and training facility for employees.

If confirmed, Podolny's move highlights the way in which increasing numbers of corporations set up their own "corporate universities," designed to provide tailor-made training to staff. According to one academic study of the phenomenon, by 2001 there were already around 2,000 corporate universities around the world.

The corporate university -

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Checks: The Most Dangerous Transaction | Perimeter Grid

Second, there’s the difficulty in getting your money back or even stopping the fraud! With a credit card (and to a lesser extent, a debit card), it’s pretty simple — you call the bank, say you did not authorize a charge, and the credit card company removes the charge. It is then up to them to prove you did make the charge, such as by getting a signed receipt from the merchant and matching your signature. So long as you report the fraud within 30 days, you are not liable — the worst the card company can do to you is to cancel your card (but you still don’t have to pay for the charge you didn’t make.) In theory, you’re liable for up to $50, but almost no card issuers really charge this since it’s terrible customer service (”Sorry you were stolen from! Give us $50!”)

With checks, the money is already gone.  If you report a check as fraudulent, there is no federal law saying the bank is liable — it’s up to the bank’s own policies and in some cases a hodgepodge of state laws whether they have to help you at all.  The bank may get back to you in 60 to 90 days (during which you don’t have the money, even if it was the entire contents of your checking account.)  You have to report the fraud on a paper letter, with a notarized signature, usually by certified mail.  What’s more, you have to prove that the checks were not authorized — the burden of proof is on you, not the bank or merchant — and you have to do it to each party from which you’re trying to reclaim money.  If a thief wrote bad checks in 20 different jurisdictions, you may be dealing with this for years.

Worse yet, you can’t stop the fraud from taking place.  The thief can keep writing checks on your account even after you’ve started reporting them as fraud, and even after you’ve closed the account.  Every time the thief writes a bad check on a closed account (the classic practice known as “paperhanging”, a favorite of Frank Abagnale during his criminal youth), your bank will reopen the account and send you an NSF notice.  You have to dispute all of these, too.  And finally, your account (and possibly your name) will go into ChexSystems (the equivalent of the credit bureaus used to check people’s checking account history) as fraudulent, which will make it difficult or impossible to get new checking accounts for many years.  On the bright side, it will make it harder for the thief to open accounts in your name, but that’s little consolation since he can keep using the closed one he already has.

Checks: The Most Dangerous Transaction | Perimeter Grid